Regulating electron ‘spin’ may be key to making organic solar cells competitive

August 7, 2013

Organic solar cells that convert light to electricity using carbon-based molecules have shown promise as a versatile energy source but have not been able to match the efficiency of their silicon-based counterparts.

Now, researchers have discovered a synthetic, high-performance polymer that behaves differently from other tested materials and could make inexpensive, highly efficient organic solar panels a reality.

Scientists review the ecological effects of sea ice loss

August 1, 2013

The Arctic Ocean has more open water each summer, a trend most scientists predict will continue in coming years. September 2012 set the record for the most open water since satellite observations began.

A University of Washington researcher is co-author on a review paper published this week (Aug. 2) in the journal Science looking at the ecological consequences of sea ice decline.

Santa’s workshop not flooded – but lots of melting in the Arctic

July 30, 2013

Santa’s workshop at the North Pole is not under water, despite recent reports. A dramatic image captured by a University of Washington monitoring buoy reportedly shows a lake at the North Pole. But Santa doesn’t yet need to buy a snorkel.

“Every summer when the sun melts the surface the water has to go someplace, so it accumulates in these ponds,” said Jamie Morison, a polar scientist at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory and principal investigator since 2000 of the North Pole Environmental Observatory. “This doesn’t look particularly extreme.”

For the love of bees

July 23, 2013

As honey bees around the country are dying off at concerning levels, a group of researchers at the UW’s beekeeping yard are working to maintain and protect honey bees and other pollinators by using non-artificial methods.

Honey bees are responsible for pollinating more than $15 billion worth of crops per year in the United States, yet their population is experiencing a decline. On average, American beekeepers lost 33 percent of their hives each winter from 2006 through 2011.

First responders

July 16, 2013

UW oceanography professor James Murray is currently leading a team of several UW students and researchers from Western Washington University (WWU) in conducting novel experiments at the Friday Harbor Lab in the San Juan Islands. The researchers are observing how phytoplankton react to ocean acidification, the ongoing decrease of the ocean’s pH level due to an increase of CO2 in the ocean. They discovered that currently, the ocean already contains high levels of CO2 and continues to absorb more, which makes an increasingly acidic ocean environment.

Hazy Days of Summer

July 9, 2013

Dozens of atmospheric scientists, including three University of Washington faculty members, are taking part in what’s being described as one of the largest atmospheric field campaigns in decades.

The six-week Southeast Atmosphere Study, through July 15, includes scientists from more than 30 different institutions. Together they are studying how pollutants combine with natural vegetation emissions to affect climate and air quality in the Southeastern U.S.

UW takes major step in establishing ocean observatory

June 27, 2013

The University of Washington research ship Tommy Thompson sits a the end of Pier 91 and is getting ready to sail in a few days.

On board is a portion of the  570 miles of fiber optic cable that will turn the ocean floor off the northwest coast into a research paradise, and not just for scientists. The public will also be able to watch high definition video of hot volcanic vents and unusual sea life in real time starting in 2015. The public may even be invited to help with research.

UW professor finds success with crowdfunding

May 20, 2013

In his 20 years of conducting research, UW Atmospheric Sciences professor Dan Jaffe had always gone the conventional route of writing grant proposals to fund his scientific research projects — until now.

For his current project, he reached out to the general public, which responded by helping him achieve his fundraising goal of $18,000 in 10 days.

His project concerns measuring the environmental impact of coal trains, particularly their impact on air quality and human health.